Archives for : June2013

Do Children Gain Anything From Worship?

It is tough getting a family ready for worship, especially when you have two or three little ones. It may be especially hard to try to get them ready a second time for Sunday night. Thoughts may even go through our mind like, “They don’t really learn anything from it any way.” But is that really true?

Let me suggest a few very important things that even younger children gain from worship. First, they do learn bits and pieces. The more they hear, the more they will learn even if the majority of the lesson is over their heads. The truth is that in the typical sermon there are many things that even a younger child can understand. It might surprise us what they actually hear as they are coloring in their coloring books!

Attending worship is also the formulation of a very important habit. Obviously it is more than a habit, but yet it is a habit. After we attend consistently for a while our children learn that this is simply what we do. There is seldom an argument or even a whimper of disapproval about going. This good habit will likely become their own habit some day.

We will struggle with our children’s attitude toward worship when we are not regular in attendance. Surely they must reason, “We didn’t go last time, why should we go now?”

In attending worship services our children also learn what is important to us. We must understand that our values usually become their values. In contrast to this, what do we teach our children when we skip worship from time to time? They learn that worship and God are simply not as important as the things that we skip them for.

Children certainly do profit from being in the worship assembly. May we always allow our little children to come unto Him (cf. Mt. 19:14Mt. 19:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Daren Scroeder

Her 22nd marriage

I was very shocked to read about a Malaysian woman who is 107 year old and is married to a man who is 70 year younger than her.  I was even more shocked to read that this is her 22nd marriage!  In her previous marriages, some had died and some had divorced.  In this article she was expressing that she was afraid her current husband would leave her for a younger woman, but even if he did she had her eyes on a 50-year-old man.  If this was not already bad enough, her current husband expressed that they fell for each other because it was “God’s will” (CNN News).

What?  It was God’s will that this woman have 22 different husbands over the course of her life just so she eventually finds the one she is with now?  And God had this all planned out?  While many thoughts come to my mind in response to this, I will let God tell us what His will is.  1 Peter 4:1-31 Peter 4:1-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 1 Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, winebibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries:

WP-Bible plugin
says, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.  For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.” Then we are all familiar with other scriptures such as Matthew 5:32, 19:9Matthew 5:32, 19:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

32 but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

WP-Bible plugin
; Malachi 2:6Malachi 2:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many away from iniquity.

WP-Bible plugin
, etc.  Obviously God’s will for this couple was for them to cease from such sins as they were committing. So, this couple was absolutely not following God’s will.  God did not approve of this marriage, and likely many of the others before it.

While having the attitude of “God’s will be done” is a good and valid one, this only works when people are actually trying to let God’s will work in their lives.  The goal of this article was not to focus on divorce, but about letting God’s will work in our lives.  Thankfully, God has revealed His will to us in the Bible.  God’s will is never that we live in sin.  No matter what we may think or feel is right, let’s make sure we have God’s approval within the Bible.  Let’s close with Colossians 1:9-12Colossians 1:9-12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;

WP-Bible plugin
, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”

Brett Petrillo

The Bible and baptism

TO BE “SAVED” means to be made safe…

It implies that the unsaved person is in danger.  Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

WP-Bible plugin
speaks of salvation and safety from sin.  When the term saved is used in reference to a Christian, it means he is made safe from the guilt and eternal consequences of his sins (Acts 2:47Acts 2:47
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.

WP-Bible plugin
; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 15:21 Corinthians 1:18; 15:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God. 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain.

WP-Bible plugin
; Ephesians 2:15Ephesians 2:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace;

WP-Bible plugin
; Titus 3:5Titus 3:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

WP-Bible plugin
).  This safety is brought about by God’s pardon, which can be affected in no other way.  It means the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16Acts 2:38; 22:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

WP-Bible plugin
).  This salvation is equivalent to the promise of pardon for those who believe and are baptized.  Many religious people balk at the idea of placing baptism in such a connection with salvation (that baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins).  However, we must remember that it was Jesus Himself who placed baptism in this connection.  When a mind revolts at any of His words, it is not His fault but their fault.  The stubborn heart bears sole responsibility for one’s failure to heed God’s Word.  When considering the concept of being saved, one must take into account the power of God to deliver an individual from the bondage of sin by the power of the Gospel.  H.D. Simmons

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”  Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

WP-Bible plugin

–Mike Benson

How stay focused

The term “shell shock” was coined during World War I to describe the physiological reaction of soldiers who faced the seemingly endless barrage of artillery fire and shelling from the enemy. Bombardments could literally go on constantly for over a week in an attempt to weaken the defenses of soldiers who would then be attacked in an offensive. Soldiers would snap, running out of bunkers above the trench line to certain death, would get uncontrollable tremors and similar nervous conditions that could stay with them for a lifetime. Sometimes, as the result of shell shock, men would become mutes.

I ran across an interesting observation concerning shell shock. Joseph Persico writes, In a curious sociological phenomenon, as the level of responsibility rose, the incidence of shell shock declined. An officer looking after his men,inspecting fortifications, checking on rations, in short, a man whose attentions were directed outward–was less likely to crack than a simple, uneducated solider left alone on sentry duty or crouched in a shell hole for hours, even days, his thoughts fixed obsessively on his fate (Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918: World War I And Its Violent Climax, Random House: 2005, p. 155). What a remarkable finding!

Under conditions most of us cannot imagine, some men were able to keep themselves sane and collected while those around them fell apart encountering the same conditions. The difference was a matter of focus. I have seen people crumble, their faith destroyed and their lives a mess, when facing the trials of life. Yet, I have seen others face even greater trials, seemingly unbearable crises, who have remained calm, collected, and Christlike through them. The difference usually boils down to something similar to Persico’s findings. Those who continue to keep their focus outward, despite personal duress and difficulty, are able to “keep it together.” Those who merely obsess and focus on themselves are destined to crumble facing the trials of life.

Paul told the church at Philippi, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (2:3-4). This is wisdom not only for pleasing the Lord, but for living a more fulfilled, serene life. Satan and the world will bombard us in ways that seem relentless and endless. Only when we focus outwardly rather than inwardly will we be able to survive!

–Neal Pollard

Are you worried about something?

WHEN GOD TELLS us in the Bible not to worry, it isn’t a suggestion…

It’s a command.  Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament alone as something we should avoid.

The words used most often for worry and anxiety in the New Testament come from the same Greek word, meridzoe, which means “to be divided, to be pulled in opposite directions, to choke.”  (Perhaps we wear anxiety around our necks after all.)

In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us: “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures.”  These people have accepted the Word of God, Jesus says, but “they do not mature.”  Grasping for spiritual breath, worry-bound, thorny-ground Christians may survive, but they never truly thrive.

The Old English word for worry meant “to gnaw.”  Like a dog with a bone, a worrier chews on his problem all day long.

Why is the Bible so adamant about our avoiding fear and worry?  Because God knows worry short-circuits our relationship with him.  It fixes our eyes on our situation rather than on our Savior.  It works a little like thick London fog–the kind of fog that is legendary.  Why, it wouldn’t be a Sherlock Holmes without fog to obscure the villain and allow him to get away.  “Thick as pea soup,” Londoners describe it.  “Can’t see your hand in front of your face,” they say.

–Joanna Weaver

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”  Matthew 6:25Matthew 6:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?

WP-Bible plugin

–Mike Benson

For we all stumble in many things

“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body . . . Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.” (James 3:2, 5James 3:2, 5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 For in many things we all stumble. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. 5 So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire!

WP-Bible plugin
NKJV).

In the mission field, just like in congregations in the U.S., one must occasionally deal with accusations and rumors against preachers or other church leaders. Each one must be taken seriously and investigated, but many of these are quickly found to be false, based on some grudge or perceived potential gain for the accuser.

Many are made by non-Christians, but sadly some come from within the church. Each occasion reminds us of the power of the tongue, and the difficulty of controlling it.

Perhaps no part of the human body or nature has more avenues for both good and evil than the tongue. James’ teaching certainly supports this observation.

With the tongue one may curse, blaspheme, teach falsely, lie, gossip, malign, harshly criticize, hypocritically flatter, boast, worship false gods, speak obscenely or foolishly, engage in idle speculation, and tempt others to sin.

Conversely, with the tongue one may praise God, preach the Gospel, encourage others, and speak that which is true and wholesome, with much benefit to all.

The tongue is neutral, with equal power for good or evil. It is the mind directing the tongue, giving it words to speak, which determines its moral value.

Jesus taught, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts . . . wickedness . . . blasphemy . . . foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23Mark 7:20-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 And he said, That which proceedeth out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 covetings, wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, railing, pride, foolishness: 23 all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man.

WP-Bible plugin
).

One’s words are a product of his thoughts, and that is part of his nature. The keys to a righteous tongue are purity of heart and self-discipline. If one does not think it, he won’t say it. Even if he has an impure or untrue thought, if he considers carefully before speaking, he will avoid evil.

James declared that anyone able to control his tongue could control all of his body. This statement reveals the absolute necessity of self-discipline. The operative word here is “control.”

One simply must think before he speaks. Only when we take responsibility for our words, and recognize that we will answer for them in judgment, will we be able to turn our tongues from evil and use them for good.

Too many feel that they are not accountable for their words, or that they cannot help themselves when it comes to their speech. Others may feel that words are simply not that important.

The teaching of scripture demonstrates that none of those excuses are valid. Evil words are a raging fire, James says, able to do great harm.

Our own experiences bear ample witness to that truth. Lives are ruined, hearts are broken, families and churches destroyed by false accusations and cruel rumors. No excuse for such behavior exists.

The false teachers in Crete were termed by Paul “idle talkers and deceivers” (Titus 1:10Titus 1:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 For there are many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision,

WP-Bible plugin
), and further described as “abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16Titus 1:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 They profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Evil speech is a mark of evil hearts and ungodly lives. It is also a contributor to those characteristics.

In the same way, pure speech is a sign of faithfulness and godliness. One who uses his words to praise God and encourage others demonstrates that love and righteousness exist in his heart. It is that which comes from within, through actions and speech that testify to one’s character.

When I hear accusations against one whom I know to be a brother or sister in Christ, one reaction is to question the character and motive of the accuser. Often (though admittedly not always) such accusations tell us far more of the accuser’s true nature than they do of the accused.

If we are aware of this truth, how much more is God who knows our hearts perfectly? Let us guard our tongues and use them only for good.

–Michael E. Brooks – www.forthright.net

June 20, 2013

It was game six of the NBA finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. The Heat were playing at home and the Spurs were leading the series 3-2, meaning one more win would crown them as the 2013 NBA champions. With 28 seconds left in the game, a spurs player stole a pass and got fouled at the other end. After shooting the free throws the spurs had a 5-point lead, typically enough to secure the win. This deficit was enough for thousands of fans to throw in the towel and try to beat the traffic.

Almost as soon as the fans stepped out of the arena, the Miami Heat sparked an amazing comeback. With only seconds to go, the Heat dropped an incredible 3-point shot to tie the game and send it to overtime. Meanwhile, the fans that left quickly caught wind of what was happening inside and tired to get back to their seats. These fans were met with a team of security guards and the hard and fast rule marked with big read letters, “No re-entry allowed.”

The Heat went on to win the game 103-100 in overtime. Players, coaches, and broadcasters all shared the view that this was one of the greatest and most exciting games. As for the fans that decided to leave early, they missed this great victory.

In Matthew 25:1-13Matthew 25:1-13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For the foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them: 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there is a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you: go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.

WP-Bible plugin
, Jesus told a parable with surprising parallels to this game. The parable is about ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of the virgins came prepared with enough oil and five did not. The virgins who did not have enough oil had to leave early to go buy more. While they were gone, the bridegroom came and let the prepared virgins in and closed the door. When the unprepared virgins came back they begged to get in but it was too late. The point of the parable was to warn people to be ready for Christ’s return because

In both of these situations, people missed out on the celebration because of poor choices. As Christians, we want to stand in victory with the Lord. Therefore, let’s remember two lessons from these situations.

1. Always Be Prepared. We don’t know what the future holds (even in silly basketball games). Depending on which comes first, Jesus or death, many people will be caught off guard (Matthew 25:13; 24:42, 44Matthew 25:13; 24:42, 44
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.

WP-Bible plugin
). We must always be prepared.

2. Never Leave Early. Don’t leave the faith. Only those who are faithful until the end will receive the crown of victory (Revelation 2:10Revelation 2:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Let’s not be among those who miss out on the victory because we left early or because we weren’t prepared.

–Brett Petrillo

Toxic Clean-Up

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8Matthew 5:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

WP-Bible plugin
, ESV).

What in the world had made him say that? Byron shook his head to free his thoughts. He hadn’t used profanity since he was a teenage boy, eager to show off how tough he was.

But back there in the conference room, with his colleagues gathered round, he had allowed the words to slip out.

How had this happened? He was a father of two girls, a church member, a cub scout leader. Like a bad horror movie on Friday 13, he felt as if something had possessed him!

He thought about the weekend he had just spent, playing golf with some rather rough friends; and the movie he had watched Sunday night with the profanity splattered throughout like mud on a windshield on a rainy night.

And it dawned on him that he had been hearing this sort of verbal trash all weekend.

He remembered the lesson this past week at church. The preacher had quoted Romans 12:2Romans 12:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

WP-Bible plugin
which spoke of “the renewal of the mind.” “Minds can degrade,” the preacher had declared, “just like metal in the water, it can corrode and rust.”

Yes, Byron reflected. That’s what had happened to his mind. It had degraded.

The one thing worse than a vacant mind, he reflected, is one filled with filthy thoughts. Satan had used his vacant mind as a dumping ground. His thoughts had been impure, leading to impure actions.

Time for a toxic, thought clean-up, he reflected.

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Waiting for the Master

The Tokyo Traveler states: “If you ever make plans to meet someone in Shibuya [Japan] there is a good chance that they will suggest meeting at the Hachiko statue. Located in a plaza just outside the station you will find an unassuming statue of an Akita dog named Hachiko whose story and memory is beloved by the people of Tokyo and throughout Japan.”

Hachiko arrived in Tokyo in 1924 with his owner, Hidesamurō Ueno, an agricultural professor at the University of Tokyo.  Each day he saw Ueno off to work and met him at the Shibuya train station upon his return. But one day in 1925, Ueno did not return home from work because he died.

For the next ten years after Ueno’s death – until his own death in 1935 – Hachiko returned to the station each evening to await the arrival of the train that his master rode. While some people at the station initially thought that Hachiko was just roaming around, they soon came to realize that he was waiting for his dead owner, and they nicknamed the dog Chuken (faithful dog).

After his lifeless body was found one afternoon waiting for his master’s train, his obituary was run in the newspaper, his body stuffed and placed on display, and a statue of him planted in his spot, keeping the vigil. During World War II the statue was melted down for the war effort. But in 1947, the public, still loyal to Hachiko’s memory, erected a new bronze statue of him alongside the tracks. It remains there as a monument today as people continue to join him, waiting for loved ones.

You and I can learn a lot from the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26Matthew 6:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?

WP-Bible plugin
), the lillies of the field (Matthew 6:28Matthew 6:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

WP-Bible plugin
), and even from a dog named Hachiko….

The most profound lesson that we learn from Hachiko is to faithfully await the return of the Master — the Savior Jesus Christ!

Jesus, the Son of God, left heaven and “dwelt among us” to open the way to heaven.  He died on the cross for our sins so that we can go to heaven one day (John 14:6John 14:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

WP-Bible plugin
).  After his sacrificial death, Jesus rose from the grave on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-41 Corinthians 15:1-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 1 Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;

WP-Bible plugin
), then He ascended back to heaven (Acts 1).  But one day, the Living Savior will return to judge the world (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

WP-Bible plugin
).

“Christ was sacrificed ONCE to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a SECOND TIME, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28Hebrews 9:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation.

WP-Bible plugin
).

The Good News is that we can so prepare ourselves that Jesus’ return will not be one of fearful condemnation but joyful salvation.  For Jesus will bring salvation to those who believe Him (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

WP-Bible plugin
), have turned from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

WP-Bible plugin
), confessed Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

WP-Bible plugin
), been baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

WP-Bible plugin
), and have continually waited faithfully for His return (2 Peter 3:9-182 Peter 3:9-18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, 12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.

WP-Bible plugin
).

When Jesus returns, will He find YOU faithfully waiting?

David A. Sargent

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF HYPERCRITICISM

Adolescents and teens tend to be hard on their peers, judging, prejudging, and engaging in what the King James referred to as “evil surmisings” (1 Tim. 6:41 Tim. 6:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

WP-Bible plugin
).  Adults can be no less so, leveling brutal criticisms against leaders, peers, and “underlings” alike.  What can motivate such harsh assumptions concerning others motives, words, and actions?

DEFLECTION.  Some feel that spotlighting others weaknesses inherently removes or diverts the spotlight from their own.

PROJECTION.  Some may think that because they are dishonorably, selfishly, or sinfully motivated, others must be as well.

REJECTION.  Some may feel harshly judged or inferior to others, and compensate through hypercriticism.

INFECTION.  Some feed on the hypercriticism of others, and are influenced thereby.

SATISFACTION.  Some enjoy feeding on the misfortunes and flaws of others and find hypercriticism becoming a habit that grows through practice.

Perhaps there are other motives for hypercriticism, but what would be one justifiable reason to engage in it?  It violates the law of love (1 Cor. 13:4-81 Cor. 13:4-8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

WP-Bible plugin
), the spirit of the golden rule (Lk. 6:31Lk. 6:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

WP-Bible plugin
), and the command to consider others above self (Phil. 2:3-4Phil. 2:3-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3  doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

WP-Bible plugin
).  Let us be careful about our speech, especially when we would be inclined to criticize (cf. Col. 4:6Col. 4:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

WP-Bible plugin
; Mt. 12:36-37Mt. 12:36-37
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

36 And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

WP-Bible plugin
).

–Neal Pollard

Dear Lord, Please Protect Us….

I was praying with my youngest the other night when right in the middle of the prayer, I stopped. My mind had drifted to the news I had just watched a few minutes earlier.

Tornadoes had ravaged Kentucky and much of the south that evening. There was talk of towns being demolished. The death toll was still undetermined but it was clear that some, if not many, had lost their lives and their loved ones. We had hunkered down only hours before due to the tumultuous weather.

I thought of other times when I hadn’t exactly felt God’s protection. Deaths, divorces, and acts of wickedness have stopped me in my tracks. I remembered questioning where God was and how he could ever let such atrocities happen.

My daughter’s blue eyes searched mine and I wondered if the words I had spoken over the years have been setting her up to doubt. Because pain will come. Tragedy will strike. Evil will have its moments and even its days.

Broken hearts and broken roads will be common, but in all of them, I never want her or any of my children to ever think that God has turned his back.

I don’t want them to assume that he doesn’t love them because he didn’t keep them from every hurt and every difficult moment. I want them to know that regardless of what this life brings, God cares and is no stranger to heartache.

He was there when Cain killed Abel. He saw what it did to Adam and Eve.

He watched Joseph’s brothers throw him in the pit and saw Jacob mourn.

He knew Job’s suffering.

He was too familiar with Mary’s.

He watched the Christians of the first century tortured and murdered in despicable way and he’s seen us on our knees, as well.

Our love for God should never depend on him keeping us from the woes of this world. And although God can work all things out for good (Romans 8:28Romans 8:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

WP-Bible plugin
), God isn’t behind all things. Evil strikes because evil exists.

We may never understand the whys and how comes, but we must trust the one who will have the final say. He is our love, our strength, and our protection even when we can’t feel it, bear it, or see it.

So, I took a deep breath and chose my words more wisely:

Dear Lord, Please protect us and watch over us as we go about this life but even if bad times come and break our hearts, please give us the strength not to leave you, not to turn our backs on your, and not to blame you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Paula Harrington @ www.forthright.net

2 Timothy 4:2 – “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”

We have before us a passage of scripture with some far reaching implications. Of course, we understand that Paul is telling Timothy (as well as you and I) to always teach and set the right example (1 Tim. 3:121 Tim. 3:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

WP-Bible plugin
) under all conditions whether they be favorable or unfavorable. I do believe that this is a message that is deeper and goes beyond the teaching aspect of our lives. Our faith, our religious life, our Christianity must be deep enough, strong enough that it will never be classified as “seasonal”.  Sadly, tragically, this is a problem faced by many churches—“seasonal members”. Just as a side note here, our assembly times tell a powerful story. At the A.M. worship hour our pews are full or at least comfortably so. But look at the assembly at the P.M. worship hour or on Wednesday mid week assembly. Where, O where, have the “Christians” gone? Spasmodic, undependable, hot one minute, cold the next, here today, gone tomorrow. “In season”, “out of season” means “at all times”. Our faith stands strong when it is opportune or inopportune, when it is convenient, when it is inconvenient, when it is easy, when it is difficult, when we want to and when we don’t want to. There is no off season for Christians, no sale days or marked down prices. I once read a statement by someone whose name I have long ago forgotten which said, “either you is or you ain’t”. Not the proper way to speak perhaps but the sentiment is right on.

Living the Christian life is not a mere profession but it is a practice, not just some emotional feeling but a demonstration and this is a seven day, twenty-four hours a day matter (Jas.1:21, Matt. 25, Gal. 6:10Gal. 6:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.

WP-Bible plugin
,Matt. 5:16Matt. 5:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

WP-Bible plugin
, Matt. 7:21Matt. 7:21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

WP-Bible plugin
, Jas. 2:14-26Jas. 2:14-26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself. 18 Yea, a man will say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith. 19 Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; 23 and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. 24 Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. 25 And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.

WP-Bible plugin
, 1 Cor. 15:581 Cor. 15:58
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.

WP-Bible plugin
, Acts 2:46Acts 2:46
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

46 And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart,

WP-Bible plugin
). I love the words of Paul in Romans 12:1Romans 12:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.

WP-Bible plugin
, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”. We must yield ourselves to him completely, letting him have full possession. His word must fill our heart, mold our thoughts and guide our life. Our life as a Christian does not depend on where we are or who we are with. It does not depend on the weather or even how we feel. The real test of our Christianity is serving our God in spite of circumstances that may surround us (Matt. 10:38, 16:24Matt. 10:38, 16:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. 16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

WP-Bible plugin
).

The uncertainty of the future should inspire us to make our religious life (our Christianity) a seven day, twenty-four hours a day matter. Ours should always be an “everyday religion” not one that is spasmodic, in and out, up and down like a roller coaster (Eccl. 9:10Eccl. 9:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.

WP-Bible plugin
). Ever remember that “in season, out of season” equals “at all times”. We claim to be a child of God. I wonder, can he depend on us to be the child he wants us to be?

Charles Hicks

2 Timothy 4:22 Timothy 4:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

WP-Bible plugin
- “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”' data-link='http://www.abiblecommentary.com/blog/2013/06/13/2-timothy-42-preach-the-word-be-instant-in-season-out-of-season-reprove-rebuke-exhort-with-all-longsuffering-and-doctrine/' data-summary=''>

Lessons Learned Standing Outside the Church Building

Last Sunday evening during worship my 9-month-old son started getting fussy. I took him out into the foyer and eventually had to step outside because the Lord’s Supper was being held in the foyer on this particular Sunday. As I stood outside, I realized that I had never been outside of the building when worship was taking place. It was a very unique experience.

First, I was able to hear beautiful singing. Even though I wasn’t inside, I could hear voices harmonizing together and the wonderful melody pouring out of the open windows. I was even able to pick out certain voices because of the conversations and fellowship I’ve had with these individuals.

Second, I noticed several distractions outside. The street was busy with passing cars and people traveling to one destination or another. My son (who loves cars) watched every vehicle until it was out of sight. Every time a car passed by, the singing was drowned out by the road noise. These distractions quickly cut off any connection I had with the worship inside.

Third, I saw the faces of the people in the cars. Even though worship was taking place and there was beautiful singing to be heard, not one person looked over at the building or heard the praises being sung. Car after car simply drove on by. The faces I saw described people who were focused on their lives, their plans, their destinations, and people who were uninterested in worship. These people were locked away in their cars, blocked out from God, and likely engulfed by the world. It was sad to see people so near to a place of worship and yet so far from God. While it’s possible not all the people I saw were lost souls, their actions and attitudes certainly pointed in that direction.

Seeing all of this outside brought me to this conclusion: It is a tremendous blessing to be able to worship with the saints. We have no fear of persecution or punishment for our actions. We can open the windows and let our singing be heard by all. There are tremendous bonds and connections with those we worship with. When we worship, we can shut ourselves out from the world and surround ourselves in worship (Romans 12:2Romans 12:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

WP-Bible plugin
). While worshipping, we can put all distractions aside and focus on the Lord (Luke 10:38-42Luke 10:38-42
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at the Lord's feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving; and she came up to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister did leave me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 But the Lord answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things: 42 but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Worshiping the Lord is so wonderful! This is why it’s so disheartening to see people pass by who don’t know about this blessing. This is also why it is so horrifying to think of those who know of this privilege yet choose to skip out anyway.

Hebrews 10 summarizes this thought incredibly well: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (19, 22-25).

When the next appointed worship time comes, let’s make sure we are there and invite others to come share in this privilege.

–Brett Petrillo

Mercy for the Merciful

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7Matthew 5:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

WP-Bible plugin
).

David Evans knew he was in trouble when he saw the big cottonwood in the back yard toppled over after the storm. It had fallen on the neighbor’s yard, breaking part of the wall that separated the two properties.

And McLeland was not happy. “This cost at least five grand, and you will have to pay for its complete replacement,” he declared.

David didn’t have the money. He was a retired teacher, and had lost what savings he had when his beloved Glenda had succumbed to cancer. He would have to borrow.

And, what was more, the economy was bad these days. Fearfully he entered the big bank and asked for the loan officer. Would they grant him the money?

He was shown into the room of a big young man wearing a suit, and sat down. He explained the situation, and offered his two bedroom house as security. David could not divine the man’s attitude. The officer sat and listened impassively.

When he was finished, the big man said quietly: “Mr. Evans, you don’t remember me, do you?

The officer was correct. He could not recall him.

“I was in your class fifteen years ago. Do you remember the day that I broke the window of your car horsing around?”

“Little Tommy?” David said with wonder, “You’ve grown up!”

“I go by Thomas these days. But I remember thinking that I could never afford to pay for that window. You put your arm around me, and said, “Son, a window can be replaced; little boys cannot.”

He looked at the elderly teacher and smiled. “Now, Mr. Evans, about that loan …”

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Is faith alone enough?

THE FIRST THING we need to know about Paul’s answer as recorded in Acts 16 is that is was only the beginning of the answer…

When he told the jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” he did not stop there.  A doctor, when asked, “What shall I do about my disease may reply, “Just trust in me and I will take care of you.”  All understand that to be the beginning of an answer that involves putting yourself into the doctor’s care, following his directions, and taking his prescriptions.  There is no instance in or out of the Bible of anyone ever being blessed by faith, cured by faith or saved by faith until that faith led them to obey.  Even denominational theologians admit that belief that offers salvation always involves a trusting reliance on him, not merely intellectual assent.  The problem is, they do not seem to know what “trusting reliance” involves.

It is easy to see here that the response was one that was always true in every case of conversion.  They heard the gospel (v. 32, cf., Romans 10:17Romans 10:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

WP-Bible plugin
).  They responded to that story in penitent faith (v. 33, Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

WP-Bible plugin
; Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

WP-Bible plugin
).  They were baptized immediately (cf. Acts 22:16; 8:37-38Acts 22:16; 8:37-38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name. 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

WP-Bible plugin
).  Can one imagine a person who thinks baptism is not important being baptized at that hour of the night under those circumstances?  When verse 34 indicates that they “rejoiced, having believed” it again shows that this faith was not simply intellectual assent, but trusting reliance on and submission to the commands of Jesus.  (T. Pierce Brown)

“And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes.  And immediately he and all his family were baptized.  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God will all his household.”  Acts 16:30-34Acts 16:30-34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house. 32 And they spake the word of the Lord unto him, with all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. 34 And he brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God.

WP-Bible plugin

–Mike Benson

How many Mrs. Rosensteins are in the city which you live?

JEAN ROSENSTEIN SAT down at a small table in her cramped, one-bedroom apartment and painfully put her thoughts on paper…

The arthritis in her fingers made the writing difficult and painful, but she continued.  The scrawled words read, “I’m so lonely I could die.  So alone.  I cannot write.  My hands and fingers pain me…I see no human beings.  My phone never rings…I’m so very old, so very lonely.  I hear from no one…Way past eighty years.  Should I die?  Never had any kind of holidays, no kind.  My birthday is this month…Sometimes I even feel sure the world ended, and I’m the only one on earth.  How else can I feel?  Oh, dear God, help me.  Am of sound mind, so lonely, very, very much.  I don’t know what to do.”

She put the letter in an oversized yellow envelope along with some money and six stamps and mailed it to the Los Angles Times newspaper.  The money was to pay for the call if someone would just call to talk to her.  The stamps were for anyone who would take the time to write.  In a city surrounded by millions of people, Jean Rosenstein felt alone.  And what happened?  First, a reporter called and said he would like to visit.  Mrs. Rosenstein was delighted.  She had not had a visitor for a long, long time.

She described her painfully accurate situation to the reporter.  “If you are alone, you die every day…Sometimes I just dread to see myself wake up in the morning.”  The newspaper printed her letter along with a story.  Within days thousands of letters and cards poured into the little apartment.  Visitors began to stream in and out to talk to the lonely lady who had no friends.  So many people called that she finally had to take the phone off the hook.  Letters came from elderly people, young couples sent pictures of their children.  People responded from all over the world.  She said, “This will last a lifetime.”

THOUGHT: How many Mrs. Rosensteins are in the city which you live–some lost in vast cities, some in convalescent hospitals, some in shabby apartments, some on farms–all forgotten people, forgotten by children and former acquaintances, forgotten by people who are too busy to care?  All that is necessary to destroy loneliness is the one real friend.  If there is a Jean Rosenstein living near you, a person who needs your friendship as badly as you need to extend it?  Take a look, friend, and reach out to that person.  (Harold J. Sala)

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Proverbs 18:24Proverbs 18:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 He that maketh many friends doeth it to his own destruction; But there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

WP-Bible plugin

–Mike Benson

Preserving the Unity of the Spirit

The first several verses of Ephesians 4 have long been recognized as a unity passage. Let’s take another look at it.

Here’s the text, from the NET Bible:

4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

1. The Conformity of Unity (1).

It is not by chance that, in this section on unity, Paul calls upon the Christian to live, or walk, worthily of their calling. The calling is the invitation to enter and participate in the kingdom of God. Unity is a feature of that kingdom, one of its many blessings. To walk worthily of the calling means to live in a manner that corresponds to kingdom demands and reaches the heights of kingdom purposes. It means promoting the unity God grants.

2. The Attitude of Unity (2).

Some people constantly fight over words or personalities. God’s people love peace and seek every opportunity to promote it, within the parameters he sets.

Some charge us with arrogance for what we teach, but to receive the word of God and proclaim it as only truth is the essence of humility, for it recognizes that the capacity for producing truth is not in the human heart, but in the message of Christ. Arrogant is he who refuses to recognize God’s plain truth.

3. The Effort for Unity (3).

Unity is not created, but received from God; it is unity of the Spirit. Hence, we preserve it. We are to make “every effort” to preserve it, even if the church’s building is painted a different color than our preference.

And when unity is destroyed? We restore it with those who are willing, like us, to repent and do the will of God.

4. The Basis for Unity (4-6).

These seven elements express the only basis upon which God grants unity. At the center is Lord Jesus Christ, around whom everything in the church revolves. Paul probably has a concentric or chiastic pattern for these seven.

A One body B One Spirit C One hope X One Lord C’ One faith B’ One baptism A’ One God and Father

5. The Diversity for Unity (7).

To speak of diversity in unity is inaccurate; God created the diversity of the body of Christ to contribute to unity, because it is not a diversity of beliefs, but of gifts and functions (see verses 8-16). In the many areas of service, we speak the same thing. The one body has many active members and all act in coordination from the head.

To be one, we must fit ourselves into the divine pattern of unity.

–by J. Randal Matheny @ www.forthright.net

Get a “full reward”

“Full Benefits”

Travel with me through time to the era of our grandparents. We’ve made one of our infrequent trips to the general store and purchased, among other staples, a box of oatmeal. Guess what we’ll find inside that box? Yes, we’ll find oatmeal, the old fashioned variety that takes a few minutes to prepare. But in certain brands we’ll also find glassware. “Wedding Crystal Oats” was a leading brand of the time, and many young brides filled their cupboards in this way.

Suppose, however, someone excitedly opened the box to pull out their piece of crystal, but threw away the carton and “packing material”. “What are you doing?” we would ask. “Don’t you realize that the glass is only part of the package? Enjoy the full benefits of your purchase!”

I heard a similar story about an old man who saved his pennies for years so he could take an ocean cruise. The day finally arrived when he boarded the ship bound for the Caribbean. He marveled at the view and enjoyed the ship’s decorations. In the evening he walked back to his economy cabin and dined on dry bread and moldy cheese as wealthier passengers made their way to the dining hall.

After a couple of days someone asked why he had not joined the rest for meals. “I only had enough to buy my fare,” the old man responded. “I cannot afford those lavish meals.” “Oh, but you don’t understand,” the other answered. “The meals are included with the price of your ticket!”

Are there Christians who miserably eat dry bread and moldy cheese, thinking that’s the best that can be offered them? Here’s a message from the apostle John you might want to hear: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2 John 8).

There is a “full reward” for all who faithfully follow Jesus. But are we laying claim to the fullness of our reward? Or only enjoying certain aspects while enviously watching others who seem to have a joy that we can only imagine?

Paul also urged Christians to receive their full benefits: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19Ephesians 3:17-19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Some disciples touch only the periphery of faith’s blessings. They take time to worship God, perhaps only once a week, and know just enough to be uncomfortable about their standing before God. They sing with less gusto than others, live less devoted lives, and serve only their own needs. This is not “the fullness of God”.

Jesus provided for a full package of benefits for those who turn away from the world to live for God. His purpose is clear: “… I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10John 10:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Give yourself fully to the Lord and enjoy His full benefits!

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24John 4:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

WP-Bible plugin
). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

Timothy D. Hall.

The Shield of Shame

Keith Wishum reports that there are several types of beetle larvae that carry what is called a fecal shield. They keep their own excrement and build a shield from it on their backs. That discourages predators — not just for the reasons we might think. It’s not that potential predators find the shield contents disgusting; they find them dangerous. The beetles feed on noxious plants so that their fecal material is poisonous. Other creatures do not want to bother them!

Some PEOPLE are like that: they feed on toxic thoughts! They store them up and build an invisible shield that is highly effective at keeping others away. Being NEAR them proves to be very unpleasant. BEING them is even more repulsive.

If we store up and carry around noxious things from our past, the past poisons the present and it robs us of joy. If we hope to be joyful, we must do some forgetting.

And among the most important things to forget are our failures….

Notice what Paul said: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14Philippians 3:13-14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

WP-Bible plugin
).

For Paul, part of his past was “persecuting the church” (Philippians 3:6Philippians 3:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.

WP-Bible plugin
). At one time he was convinced that he ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 26:9Acts 26:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

WP-Bible plugin
).  He realized his error when he was confronted by the risen Christ and he became a Christian (Acts 9, 22, 26Acts 9, 22, 26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews that dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Paul’s past was dark. It could easily have darkened the rest of his days. But, by God’s grace, he could forget what was behind. YOU can, too!

Jesus died on the cross so that we might have the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

WP-Bible plugin
).  Our sins can be cleansed by His blood when we respond in trusting obedience: believing and trusting in Him (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

WP-Bible plugin
), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

WP-Bible plugin
), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

WP-Bible plugin
), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

WP-Bible plugin
).  He will continue to cleanse those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

WP-Bible plugin
).

We ALL have our share of shame however, we don’t have to carry it around  (Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

WP-Bible plugin
). God offers to FREE US from our shield of shame to let us live with joy and hope.

Won’t you allow Him to free YOU from the burden of sin?

David A. Sargent

The Sunshine Vitamin

The September/ October 2009 edition of AARP Magazine had an article entitled “The Sunshine Vitamin.” They’re referring, of course, to Vitamin D. Research has shown that this common vitamin pays big dividends in human health.

Harvard researchers, for example, found that of the 18,000he 18,000
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja! Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

WP-Bible plugin
men they’ve been tracking since 1993, those with higher levels of Vitamin D were least likely to have heart attacks. Other studies have shown that abundant amounts of this vitamin have positive benefits for “the risk of colorectal cancer, hip fractures and tooth loss.”

As we learn these benefits, however, the trend of Americans is to get less Vitamin D than before. The most common source of this nutrient is exposure to sunlight. We spend far more time indoors than did our ancestors. Combine that fact with warnings about overexposure to the sun and it’s no wonder that many get too little sunshine. Just 10 to 15 minutes exposure to sunlight a few times each week would do wonders for our physical health.

Exposure to light is also important for our souls. John’s introduction of Jesus includes these intriguing words: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4John 1:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

WP-Bible plugin
, NKJV). One would think that the dawning of such powerful and pure light would be welcomed by all.

But some prefer not to expose themselves to the light Jesus gives:

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19,20John 3:19,20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Good spiritual health depends on regular exposure to this Son-light. Paul said as much in Ephesians 5:8Ephesians 5:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light

WP-Bible plugin
: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

Let’s take a moment to reflect: Do we come to the light regularly? Or are there other activities we enjoy more? What does that say about our soul’s condition?

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6,71 John 1:6,7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Just 10 to 15 minutes of exposure a few times each week.

by Tim Hall